SCIENCE NEWS: Bringing sea otters back to San Francisco Bay; 100 years of tiny seashells reveal alarming trend threatening West Coast seafood; Earthquake early warning system sends first public alert to smartphones in California; and more …

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In science news this week: Bringing sea otters back to San Francisco Bay; 100 years of tiny seashells reveal alarming trend threatening West Coast seafood; A milestone: Earthquake early warning system sends first public alert to smartphones in California; Too Hot For Company: Warm Temperatures Break Up Smelt Shoals; Salmon lose diversity in managed rivers, reducing resilience to environmental change; The ferns of dripping springs; Sustainable sand gives pollution a one-two punch; Let It Be: Why We Must Save Alaska’s Pristine Tongass Forest; Scotland restores its peatlands to keep carbon in the ground; and more…

Bringing sea otters back to San Francisco Bay “The picture of sea otters frolicking among kelp beds and rocky shoals has become an iconic image of the California coastline. But it may be drawing attention away from the value of other habitat that could truly help the endangered species in its recovery — estuaries. In fact, a new study released today concludes that California could more than triple its population of southern sea otters, from an estimated 3,000 to nearly 10,000, by repopulating the largest estuary on the coast — the San Francisco Bay…” Read more from University of California News here: Bringing sea otters back to San Francisco Bay

100 years of tiny seashells reveal alarming trend threatening West Coast seafood “Roughly 100 years worth of tiny shells resting on the Southern California seafloor have revealed an alarming trend that could spell trouble for the West Coast seafood industry, a new study says. The research, published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience, suggests that the Pacific Ocean along California is acidifying twice as fast as the global average, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a news release on the findings…” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: 100 years of tiny seashells reveal alarming trend threatening West Coast seafood

A milestone: Earthquake early warning system sends first public alert to smartphones in California “In a milestone, California’s new statewide earthquake early warning cellphone app sent out its first public alert for a magnitude 4.3 earthquake that ruptured Tuesday in the mountains between the Central Coast and San Joaquin Valley. More than 40 people received the warning, said Jennifer Strauss, project manager for the MyShake app, which was created by UC Berkeley and released publicly in October. It is available on iOS and Android systems…” Read more from the Los Angeles Times here: A milestone: Earthquake early warning system sends first public alert to smartphones in California 

Stanford water expert discusses wildfire’s threat to water quality “A wildfire’s path of destruction is not limited to things that burn – water is at risk too. When fires jump from forests and grasslands to urban areas, they incinerate household and industrial items such as computers and cars, leaving behind a stew of chemicals and heavy metals. Rain can wash this into streams, rivers and municipal water treatment systems unprepared to deal with the toxic deluge. Heavy sediment loads from wildfire-related erosion can also clog water systems and strain treatment requirements…” Read more from Stanford News here: Stanford water expert discusses wildfire’s threat to water quality

Steller’s Jay on a Hidden Camera — What’s It Thinking? ”A great deal has been written about the intelligence of crows and ravens, and for good reason. They’re charismatic, and it’s easy to anthropomorphize their behavior, to see something human-like in their use of tools and their family squabbles. The downside to this fame is that other members of the corvid family sometimes get left by the wayside, despite being ace students in their own right…” Read more from Bay Nature here: Steller’s Jay on a Hidden Camera — What’s It Thinking? 

Too Hot For Company: Warm Temperatures Break Up Smelt Shoals “Delta smelt are known to be sensitive to increases in water temperature, but little is known about the effects of increasing temperature on behavior and predator avoidance. Thus, the goal of this study was to characterize both individual and group behavior and to determine whether rising temperatures increase the risk of predation. Specifically, the team sought to evaluate the effects of elevated and variable temperatures on individual and group behaviors, response to predator cues, and predation rates by largemouth bass…” Read more from FishBio here: Too Hot For Company: Warm Temperatures Break Up Smelt Shoals

Salmon lose diversity in managed rivers, reducing resilience to environmental change “The manipulation of rivers in California is jeopardizing the resilience of native Chinook salmon. It compresses their migration timing to the point that they crowd their habitats. They may miss the best window for entering the ocean and growing into adults, new research shows…” Read more from Science Daily here: Salmon lose diversity in managed rivers, reducing resilience to environmental change

The ferns of dripping springs “Wet winters are the best time to climb high into the Indian Canyons to see Dripping Springs in all its glory. This is a slot canyon where the old Indian trail passes through cliff walls that literally exude moisture. It comes out of nooks and crannies in the rock to seep down the shaded face. Those surfaces protected from direct sunlight, typically a northern exposure, will present a most fascinating botany of ferns…” Read more from the Desert Sun here: The ferns of dripping springs

Sustainable sand gives pollution a one-two punchUC Berkeley engineers have developed a mineral-coated sand that can soak up toxic metals like lead and cadmium from water. Along with its ability to destroy organic pollutants like bisphenol A, this material could help cities tap into stormwater, an abundant but underused water source. The team’s findings were published recently in the journal Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology…” Read more from Berkeley Engineering here: Sustainable sand gives pollution a one-two punch

Let It Be: Why We Must Save Alaska’s Pristine Tongass ForestWhen the railroad tycoon Edward H. Harriman fell ill from stress and too much work, his doctors recommended that he take a sea cruise. Unable to do anything in a small way, Harriman filled a ship with America’s foremost scientists, artists, and writers, and sailed the coast of Alaska for two months in the summer of 1899…” Read more from Yale Environment 360 here: Let It Be: Why We Must Save Alaska’s Pristine Tongass Forest 

Real Reindeer Are More Amazing Than You Ever Imagined “From Rudolph to Frozen’s Sven, fictional reindeer are roaming just about everywhere I look. And while there’s no denying their holiday heroics, real reindeer are actually even more spectacular. No, they can’t fly. And they don’t have red noses (but more on that in a bit). But real reindeer have incredible habits and adaptations that allow them to thrive in harsh conditions. Let’s look at some of the wonders of reindeer – including how they compare to their fictional counterparts…” Read more from Cool Green Science here: Real Reindeer Are More Amazing Than You Ever Imagined 

Canadian tundra formerly covered in rich forest: Ancient plant fossil record shows “Now covered in ice and snow, present-day Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg islands in Nunavut were once home to a vibrant, temperate forest, according to fossil research just published by University of Saskatchewan (USask) scientists…” Read more from Science Daily here: Canadian tundra formerly covered in rich forest: Ancient plant fossil record shows

Best Ocean Stories, Videos, and Photos of 2019 “Dive into a recap of our most popular ocean stories, videos, and photos of the year. From sharks and sea turtles to a new mysterious type of killer whale, it was a busy year for the ocean! Check out the most popular content from 2019 below.” Read more from NOAA Fisheries here: Best Ocean Stories, Videos, and Photos of 2019

Scotland restores its peatlands to keep carbon in the ground “The burning Amazon rainforests, with their jaguars, monkeys and colourful birds, have grabbed global attention in a way the destruction of the world’s mossy peatlands never has. Yet protecting the world’s peatlands, which store at least twice as much carbon as forests, is critical in the fight against climate change…” Read more from Deutsche Welle here: Scotland restores its peatlands to keep carbon in the ground

 

Lisa’s XKCD Comic Pick of the Week …

 

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About Science News and Reports: This weekly feature, posted every Thursday, is a collection of the latest scientific research and reports with a focus on relevant issues to the Delta and to California water, although other issues such as climate change are sometimes included. Do you have an item to be included here? Submissions of relevant research and other materials is welcome. Email Maven

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